What's New in September 2016
LARGE Format - Suitable for enormous prints metres wide
As winter came to a close in 2016 I was fixed on making another snow trip before the season concluded. I had my heart set on a particular mountain hut and had conducted what I thought was considerable research on snow levels and trails, only to discover, a mere day before launch that vehicle access was in fact far more limited than I realised. My usual trick of hiking through the night to be onsite for the following dawn wasn't going to cut it. I'd waste too many days hiking in and out.
Thus it was that I found myself driving 10 hours in completely the opposite direction, intent on revisiting South Australia's much loved Kangaroo Island. The weather forecast was very favourable. Almost impossible for this location the wind was forecast low, but clouds abundant. Basically a landscape photographers dream come true. I whiled away the driving time allowing myself to imagine what such happy circumstances might yield photographically. I was not to be disappointed.
Heading off in the afternoon I made Victor Harbor a couple of hours ahead of dawn. I've spent a few dawns in this region, over the years, exploring the coast with my camera whilst waiting for the Kangaroo Island ferry. As such my entire experience with Victor Harbor is exclusively early morning, generally well before anyone else is awake. If you told me the place was a bustling metropolis during business hours, I'd not believe it. In my memory it's a peaceful seaside town its sole inhabitants being the occasional early morning jogger, or elderly couple strolling arm in arm. On this particular morn I was greeted with one of the most intensely colourful sunrises I have been privileged to witness. The water was completely still, offering a mirror like surface that reflected that beauty perfectly. What a glorious start to the journey!
Further down the peninsula I put myself on the ferry to Kangaroo Island, once again shocked at the prices for one car and passenger. If this wasn't a photography business expense I could not have afforded it. Certainly a family holiday there would be beyond our (and many Australian's) means, which is a pity because it's a wonderful experience. That said, they clearly know what the market will bare, the ferry packed to the gills with well-heeled tourists from all over the globe. It rocked and swayed on the waves making me long for dry land, but in less than an hour we were across.
With the advantage of knowledge gained from previous trips I headed straight to Admirals Arch in the Flinders Chase National Park where my first sunset composition awaited. The light hadn't played the game last time I was here, but on this round I was graced with a victory. The seals were plentiful and looked rather photogenic (though very smelly!), but I lacked a lens long enough to do them justice.
I shifted camp to the Remarkable Rocks and caught up on sleep, staying put for next few days. I've never had any trouble anywhere in Australia just bedding down in the car and this was no exception. I worked the sunsets and dawns, spending many hours on compositions and standing around in the cold waiting for the light. It sounds miserable, but for me it's truly rewarding. Nothing makes me feel more alive and passionate than questing for that one great photo.
The last time I was here the sheer volume of holiday makers swarming over the rocks made shooting panoramic scenes at nearly 180 degrees essentially impossible. They covered every visible surface of the rocks continuously. Often when photographing landscapes, the light is at its best for maybe a minute or two in any given day if at all. That moment however, could occur at any time, it just depends on what the clouds are doing, the angle of the sun, tides, wind, and so on.
On this trip I was more fortunate. For whatever reason there was only a handful of visitors during the critical hours at the end of the day and no one at all in the mornings. Pleading with people to move their shadow wasn't out of the question, particularly when they could see I'd been waiting patiently. I came away with a selection of images ranging from "nice" to "Holy Mackerel that's awesome".
Maybe I'm easily excited, but I was on a high for most of the time. During my "off duty" hours in the middle of the day I explored much of the island, but kept circling back to the Remarkable Rocks, unwilling to let go until I had them at their best. Before long my time was up and the dread ferry, with its swaying deck beckoned.
Somehow I managed to miss the morning crossing by only a few minutes and lost a whole day in Penneshaw waiting for the next one. I'd run myself ragged chasing the light, so it actually worked out well having some down time. I sat on a bench in front of the grocery store (almost the only shop in town), and watched the little seaside village pass by.
Children zipped passed on bikes, or called in for a sugary treat, their eyes bright with holiday adventure and talked excitedly whilst making plans. It was like something out an Enid Blyton story. I closed my eyes and tried to remember being that young, building sand castles, exploring rock pools, fishing with a handline off the pier, ocean swims, beach cricket, a hand-made kite, running just because you can, giddy with elation on those very rare occasions when a parent handed out ice-cream money. Of course these days I'm the one chasing after our boy and calling out "hat, sunscreen!".
All too soon the ferry was docked, once again packed to the rafters, a late comer even turned away. Across the choppy seas we went, my tummy rolling. The mainland couldn't arrive soon enough. I drove off with just enough time for one final sunset at a nearby scene I'd scouted previously, but alas the light didn't happen, so I headed towards home, getting over the border into Victoria again before sleep overcame me. A marvelous journey indeed.
A few weeks later I found myself down at the Mornington Peninsula just east of Melbourne. Officially we were visiting relatives, but the keen observer would have noticed I'd slipped camera gear into the boot. I hunted around in the dark, revisiting some old haunts looking for compositions that would present well come first light. A lot of the old piers were under construction, or had been renovated, losing their aged charm. Eventually I found one I liked very much, caught a couple of hours sleep in the car, was rewarded with a grand sunrise and slipped back to the others in time for breakfast, a smile on my face. It never ceases to amaze me how lifted my spirits are after a photo trip, no matter how brief.
Once again, thanks for reading and may you also find some moments of peace and beauty in your own lives.